Mike Tyson occasionally has to cut himself off before telling friends a story about his colorful past when his wife, Lakiha Spicer, is in the room. The boxing legend first likes to warn his wife of four and a half years (and the mother of two of his eight children) that she might not like what she's about to hear.
“I'll tell a story and say ‘Don't trip on this — this was in the past,'“ Tyson said, laughing, over the phone last month. “She takes it all in stride. She's gotten stronger over the years.”
That strength came especially in handy when Spicer helped Tyson write his one-man show, “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth.” During the 90-minute show, which he is set to perform Saturday at The Venue at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Tyson reflects on his rise to the top of the boxing world and his fall from grace. He discusses his cocaine addiction, womanizing and bankruptcy, but only briefly touches on his 1992 rape conviction, which he insists to this day was a wrongful conviction.
The former heavyweight champion has been performing the show since its debut in Las Vegas in 2012 and admitted he was initially caught off guard by the crowd's laughter, given the heavy subject matter and the fact that he doesn't think he's very funny. But that's not to say he doesn't welcome it. He feeds off the energy and feels it eases his nerves.
Tyson performed “Undisputed Truth” (also the name of his autobiography, released in November) at Cadillac Palace Theatre around this time last year. In the audience that night was one of show's subjects and a man he will forever be linked to: Evander Holyfield.
“That was pretty awesome,” Tyson said of Holyfield, whose ear he partially bit off during a boxing match in 1997. The two rivals have since reconciled. “I like when he comes to the shows. It takes the pressure off of me. I announce he's there and people go crazy. I start talking to him during the show like ‘Sorry, man' and ‘Remember this …?' “
The day after the Chicago show, Tyson made an unannounced appearance at Jewel-Osco at 1655 E. 95th St, where Holyfield was promoting his Real Deal BBQ Sauce. Tyson figured his appearance would give Holyfield's product more publicity — and he was right.
“Hey man, anything I can do to help,” Tyson said. “It shows what life is about. People make mistakes and it's important to rectifiy them. But you have to move on and not be a prisoner of your past.”
When he's not on stage with his one-man show or focusing on his new career as a boxing promoter (Tyson's Iron Mike Productions is one of the promoters involved with ESPN's “Friday Night Fights” card taking place Friday at UIC Pavilion), Tyson is in front of the camera, playing himself in comedies. Everyone knows about his roles in the first two “Hangover” films, which introduced us to a gentler and more self-deprecating Tyson than we were used to, but he's also made cameos on CBS's “How I Met Your Mother,” HBO's “Entourage” and NBC's “Law & Order: SVU,” among other shows.
What is it about entertaining that appeals to Tyson, now 47 years old?
“I was doing research on my family and found out my dad was a deacon,” said Tyson, adding that his dad was a pimp before that. “He would perform and sing gospel. He was a charismatic guy. I have a step-brother from North Carolina (Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick) who was a high school football star — he ran 15 yards every time he touched the ball. My ego always told me it all started with me and my family was nothing until I came around, but I got this from them.
“I'm still understanding my life and realizing I don't know (expletive).”
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When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Venue at Horseshoe Casino, 777 Casino Drive Center Drive, Hammond
Tickets: $15-$82.50 at ticketmaster.com